Why the “Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2006” was unfair to you
Imagine if the many thousands of Americans affected by deadly asbestos-related diseases were left without adequate compensation to help with their medical bills, or were restricted from filing claims against the companies responsible for causing their illnesses? Fortunately, this is not the case today in America, but it came close to being a reality, most recently in 2006. In that year a controversial bill called the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act (FAIR Act), was resubmitted to Congress for approval. Introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter, the FAIR Act aimed to restrict the legal rights of men and women with asbestos illnesses, keeping many of them from bringing claims to court.
The FAIR Act was first introduced to Congress in 2005, but it failed to pass after consideration. It proposed the establishment of a $140 billion trust fund for asbestos victims instead of litigation. The ACT was widely rejected various individuals and groups, including those suffering asbestos diseases as well as doctors, lawyers, members of the government, the American Public Health Association, and the Asbestos Workers Union. During a Senate hearing on the proposed legislation held on April 26, 2005, Dr. Phillip J. Landrigan of the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City testified that the Act’s provisions were not supported by medicine and would unfairly exclude many people who were sick from asbestos exposure.
"The approach to the diagnosis of disease caused by asbestos that is set forth in this bill is not consistent with the diagnostic criteria established by the American Thoracic Society, said Landrigan. “If the bill is to deliver on its promise of fairness, these criteria will need to be revised."
As one of the nation’s leading law firms, Weitz & Luxenberg has worked in asbestos litigation for over two decades, and won many considerable verdicts and settlement for clients. Please continue to browse our site for further updates and information on how you may be able to receive compensation for your asbestos condition. We are here to help.
Who would really benefit from the FAIR Act?
Amendments were made to the FAIR Act and included in the version that was resubmitted in 2006. This version also failed to become law and was cleared from the books after the congressional sessions.
If the Act were ever to be re-introduced, it is important to consider who would really have benefitted from it. The FAIR Act would have limited the amount of money that could be obtained for those affected by asbestos. Critics of the bill estimated that the allotted trust fund of fell short of about $100 billion.
Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee argued that the measure was ''seriously flawed'' and could force taxpayers to pay as much as $150 billion to make up for financing shortfalls.
“The FAIR Act is intended to collect a total of roughly $140 billion over the first three decades of its existence. However, the maximum revenues collected could fall short of this amount. Very little is known regarding the viability of firms over such a long period,” said economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who testified at a 2006 Congressional hearing on the Fair Act. “It relieves companies of tort liabilities, but provides no certainty on payments by companies because assessments are unknown at this time.”
Injured parties would also have had their fates decided by an administrator appointed for the asbestos companies. The stringent criteria set for this process would have excluded large groups of people from receiving compensation, and the waiting period for awards for those who were approved could have taken years. Men and women who did not have years of on the job documentation would be ineligible, effectively shutting out many of those who developed asbestos diseases through second hand exposure.
All this would have meant the end of much of the asbestos litigation in court, leaving many victims unable to hold the companies who made them sick accountable.
You have the right to seek compensation
If your father, or grandfather, has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, we may be able to help you receive compensation to help pay for necessary medical treatment and ensure the best care possible.
Weitz & Luxenberg has handled some of the most legally complicated and groundbreaking asbestos litigation in the country. We have won many millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements along the way.
If you would like a free consultation or more information about your legal options, please complete the form on this page, and a representative of our law firm will contact you as soon as possible.